Walsall Academy Foundation Phase and Youth Development Phase players enjoyed their final training session of the season on the Banks’s Stadium pitch earlier this week.
The players also had a special visit from Saddlers first team stars Liam Kinsella and Sam Perry as well as Under 18s scholar Rio Sawyers, who has trained with the first team on several occasions and featured in the matchday squad against Forest Green Rovers back in February.
It proved to be a great experience for all players who participated, ranging from Under 9s right through to Under 15s.
Lead Youth Development Phase Coach Duane Allen felt the players deserved the chance to train at the stadium given their hard work over the course of the season.
“Wednesday's academy sessions on the pitch were a good way of rewarding the academy boys for their hard work and commitment shown throughout the season,” he said.
“To also have Liam and Sam come down as first team players who have graduated from the academy gives the boys role models and shows them there is a pathway at the club if they work hard enough season to season.”
Lead Foundation Phase Coach Kieran Squire added: “The night was a fantastic experience for all academy boys, getting the chance to train on the first team pitch and speak to first team players about their journey and giving them role models and experiences to help develop the person as well as the player.”
We also welcomed a small group of players and coaches from Poland to on the night as part of a study visit. The coaches and players are representing two organisations ‘Coach Pro’ and ‘The Performance Academy’ and are spending five days in the UK accessing and experiencing different coaching environments.
Their first practical experience was to take part in the academy training sessions on the Banks’s Stadium pitch.
Over recent years our Academy Manager and Lead Youth Phase coach have visited Poland delivering coach education workshops and supporting their coaches and this shared experience has proved beneficial for all involved.
Agata Wandzel, Performance Academy founder, said: "We are glad that we could take advantage of the hospitality granted to us by Walsall FC. The openness of the coaches we met on the spot helped our players to freely enter training with the boys of the academy.
“Thank you to the entire staff for the opportunity to train in their academy, it is an amazing adventure and new experiences for our players and us coaches."
Artur Skrzypaszek, CoachProTeam founder, added: "It’s great to see how Walsall FC host our boys and let them feel comfortable.
“Special thanks to Academy Manager Rob Williams to organise our visit.
“Events like this help young people to find a different football environment that will help them on their development journey."